Published: 16/08/2014 07:52 - Updated: 15/08/2014 16:54

A new Lossie High is priority

Moray CouncilLOSSIEMOUTH High School has been identified as a priority project for a new building.

At a meeting on August 27, councillors will be asked to agree a replacement in principle for the secondary school that could cost up to £30 million.

Most of the money for the project is expected to come from the Scottish Government’s Schools for the Future fund.

However, Moray Council will have to dig into its own coffers if a new-build Lossiemouth High is to come to fruition.

With replacement plans already agreed for Elgin High, it leaves the coastal secondary – which has the lowest condition rating of D – the school the most in need of attention.

The local authority has pledged to bring all of its schools up to ‘B’ level.

To do that would cost £70 million.

At the meeting of the full council, elected members will be requested to give the go-ahead to a programme of works totalling more than £17 million for four primary schools.

St Gerardine in Lossiemouth and Buckie’s Millbank have an overall C rating, while Applegrove in Forres and Seafield in Elgin are classified as D.

The proposals are expected to raise questions on whether decisions have been reached on the authority’s education review.

Campaigns have been launched to save schools thought to be at risk of closure, including Milne’s High in Fochabers.

This week the Scottish Government funding was welcomed at a meeting of the policy and resources committee.

Elgin City South Councillor Graham Leadbitter said: "This is the first opportunity I have had to welcome the additional funding through the Scottish Government’s Schools for the Future (SSF) programme, which has given us in excess of £10 million.

"It is really a substantial amount of money that we are getting from the Scottish Government," he said.

The authority’s head of corporate services, Mark Palmer, said it was "very good news", but moved to clear up a misunderstanding that the amount was £13 million.

"There seems to be a lot of confusion around this; just to be clear, it is £10 million from the Scottish Government, which will need to be matched with £5 million from the council," he said.

The cash comes as the region’s share of a £100 million of Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) investment in school infrastructure, which aims to bring schools across Scotland up to a ‘satisfactory’ or ‘good’ condition as quickly as possible.

Scotland’s finance minister, John Swinney, has said that the additional funding is being targeted to support existing and approved SFF revenue funding projects, such as the new Elgin High School project.

Councillor John Divers, Elgin City South, welcomed the money, but added: "I understood that under this Government, ring-fencing had gone out the window."

Council leader, Councillor Allan Wright, said the committee had just considered three consecutive items where that had been the case. "But there we are, look not the gift horse," he added.

Following the meeting, Councillor Mike Shand, said: "This is an extra £10 million shot in the arm for Moray’s schools. It is great to get this level of additional support from the Scottish Government who are making clear the value of our schools and education.

"This is, of course, over and above money that will be committed to the Elgin High School project and over and above other capital funding from the Scottish Government. I look forward to seeing the detailed proposals of how this money will be spent in Moray."

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